Taiwan travels: Old Anping Fort

Richard Brown
2 min readMar 3, 2024

Tainan is celebrating its 400th anniversary this year, highlighting its status as the oldest city in Taiwan. With TSMC and other high-tech heavyweights establishing operations in the Tainan Science Park, officials are also keen to emphasize the city’s international links, most notably its origins as a settlement established by the Dutch East India Company in 1624.

Prior to that time, Taiwan was inhabited by indigenous peoples who lived off the land through farming, fishing, and hunting. The arrival of the Dutch was the catalyst for changing all that. After establishing an administrative base at Fort Zeelandia, now known as Anping Old Fort (安平古堡), they built a thriving trading centre that engaged in the export of deer hides, rice, grain, sugar, and even sulphur for gunpowder production.

Koxinga (鄭成/Zheng Chenggong)

Even as they traded with the local indigenous peoples, the Dutch encouraged Chinese settlers to move to Taiwan to work in agriculture, primarily rice and sugar cultivation. Dutch dominance of the island came to an end after 38 years when Koxinga (鄭成/Zheng Chenggong), the son of a Chinese pirate and Japanese mother, captured the fort in 1662 after a nine-month siege and forced them to leave.

Koxinga’s victory over the Dutch marked the beginning of Chinese rule over Taiwan. While Fort Zeelandia served as an administration centre for a couple of decades afterwards, its importance declined after the Qing dynasty annexed the island in 1683 and government affairs were transferred to Tainan city.

Anping Old Fort was repaired and its grounds were extended in 1975 as part of a Tainan City Government initiative to boost tourism. Few remnants of the original Dutch buildings are left, however because most of the bricks were used for other construction projects and the last remaining structures were destroyed during the Japanese occupation.

As a history nerd, I greatly enjoyed my visit there. It is only a thirty-minute drive from Tainan, and there are a lot of other interesting places to see nearby including the Tait and Co Merchant House and Anping Tree House.

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Richard Brown

I live in Taiwan and am interested in exploring what ancient Chinese philosophy can tell us about technology and the rise of modern China.